Nothing to see here, folks; move along, move along

Image for post
Image for post

Allen Huang’s article, “NRA’s Bankruptcy Won’t Solve America’s Dire Gun Violence Crisis” is basically fact-free rabble-rousing. It contains almost as much truth as a politician’s campaign promise.

The NRA’s filing has nothing to do with its finances: the NRA is survivably solvent, to coin a term. The NRA filed bankruptcy to end its ties to New York, where the association was founded 150 years ago, and to make it possible to charter itself in Texas, as state which is more hospitable. It should be noted that any number of states would have welcomed the NRA with open arms.

So the NRA’s filing will have no impact on its programs or its lobbying efforts. It also will have no impact on Mr. Huang’s imaginary “dire gun violence crisis.”

This shouldn’t be surprising; the NRA’s opposition to what is laughingly described as gun control has never had any impact on gun-related crime or suicide.

More on that in a minute.

Mr. Huang’s incredibly feeble attempt at research produces some real whoppers.

“In the United States, 40 percent of households own at least one firearm, and only 22 percent of individuals statistically own a firearm.”

I am not sure of how many “statistically” own firearms, but 22% was a lowball when the General Social Survey reported it in 2004 (IIRC). Subsequent surveys have produced much higher percentages.

Surveys are only as good as the sample and gun surveys are notoriously bad for pollsters because gun owners don’t participate or deny gun ownership if they get trapped into them. Look at the number of surveys that use a pool of people that have already indicated a willingness to participate in them. Care to make a guess at how many members of those pools are gun owners?

Using Mr. Huang’s flawed percentage, we come up with a figure of either 72.2 million or 56.1 million, depending on whether the total population is included or just the population of legal age to own a firearm.

There are about 19 million active handgun carry permits and there are 16 states with a total adult population of 31.4 million that don’t require a permit to carry a concealed handgun. By Mr. Huang’s numbers that would mean the either more than a quarter or more than a third of gun owners have a carry permit and factoring in the high gun ownership rates in the states without a permit requirement forces those percentages even higher.

Before 2020, the best estimates indicated that more than 100 million Americans owned guns. During 2020, nearly 23 million guns were transferred in the U.S. It’s quite likely that 2020 set a world record for the largest transfer of firearm to private citizens. There are actually an estimated 400 million-plus guns in the hands of private citizens in the U.S.

Based on feedback from dealers and the volume of new purchase and carry permits, it’s probable that another 8.1 million Americans joined the ranks of gun owners. That means the total number of people who own guns make up more than four out of every ten American adults and an even higher percentage of adults that can legally own firearms.

Let that sink in for a minute: roughly 108 million gun owners. If they had their own country, it would have the 14th-largest population in the world.

Less than 5% of gun owners belong to the NRA. Yet the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement has swept across the U.S. and five more states are considering doing away with their permit requirements to carry handguns.

Adding in the states that allow open carry without a permit, 60% of U.S. states have some form of permitless carry.

I love that "developed nations" caveat. The U.S. isn't like those countries in far more than its attitude towards guns. This also depends on the misperception that gun ownership is rare in those "developed" countries. It’s not as pervasive as it is here, but it’s certainly not like the United Kingdom, where anything more lethal that a rubber spoon is regarded as dangerous.

Mr. Huang might also be interested in looking at the murder rates in Brazil, South Africa, Russia, and Mexico, to name just a few of the countries where murder is more common. They may not be “developed” but they all have very strong prohibitions and restrictions on gun ownership. Those four countries have a weighted homicide rate of 25.79 per 100,000. Compare that to the 5.00 per 100,000 rate in the U.S. as of 2019.

Less than 5% of gun owners are members of the NRA but a heck of a lot more of them are voters. If Mr. Huang had done anything even approximating research, he would be aware not only of the explosive growth in the number of Second Amendment Sanctuaries but he would know that more states are relaxing their gun laws than toughening them.

Furthermore, the NRA isn’t even leading the state-level fights against gun control laws. This is actually a sore point among gun owners and gun rights activists.

Let’s get back to that “dire gun violence crisis.”

It doesn’t exist.

The rate of firearm deaths, including homicides, suicides, and accidental discharges, was 20% lower in 2018 than it was in 1991.

Yes, there is a suicide crisis in the U.S. but it’s not a gun suicide crisis. Firearm use in suicides has dropped about 11% since 1999. In fact, out of more than 47,000 suicides in America in 2018, the difference in the number of suicides carried out with guns and the number by other methods was 520 or slightly more than one percent. It’s gotten very little mention in the press (for some reason), but the number and rate of suicides by hanging has soared. So making suicides about guns in order to make a phony crisis ignores the larger problem.

The firearm homicide rate in 2018 was nearly 40% lower than it was in 1991. In fact, 2014 had the lowest reported murder rate since 1957.

Now here’s a conundrum: whites are both more likely to be gun owners and members of the NRA. So if guns are the cause of the problem, why is the firearm homicide rate sixteen times higher for blacks? And how are any of the popular snake-oil remedies pushed by gun control fans going to make a difference?

If we blame every single gun death on a lawful gun owner, 99.96% of gun owners didn’t kill anybody in 2018. The CDC’s sampling system is sufficiently prone to problems that the agency no longer estimates non-fatal gun injuries but if we look back at 2015, the last year the CDC offered an estimate, there were 121,249 deaths and injuries requiring at least emergency room treatment. If we use a survey-based approximation of the percentage of American adults who were gun owners in that year, 99.86% of gun owners didn’t kill or injure anyone.

Suckers like Mr. Huang have fallen prey to the Big Lie. Gun control as currently practiced uses distortion and outright falsehood to generate a frightening picture. Advocates do this to advance an agenda of gun control measures that have never been shown to be effective.

In 1991, California enacted a universal background check law. Since then, the California Assembly has been on a holy crusade to adopt every new gun control law that would hold still long enough be passed. The gun homicide rate in California plunged 66% as of 2018.

Texas did not pass any of those laws. Over the same time period, the gun homicide rate in Texas dropped 64%.

Colorado adopted a universal background check law in 2013. From 2014, the first full year the law was in effect, to 2018, the gun homicide rate soared 73%.

Assault weapon bans? According to the FBI, the percentage of murders involving rifles in has averaged nearly 32% lower in the years since the original Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004 than it was during the ten years the ban was in effect. Those figures include the victims of various mass shooting incidents. Incidentally, the firearm industry estimates that Americans own about 17 million AR-15s, AK-47s, and similar rifles. A grand total of 76 have been used in mass shootings over the past 56 years.

The so-called “common-sense” gun laws are actually nonsensical. They don’t work, in fact some of them can’t work, and they target the wrong people.

Mr. Huang thinks he’s hit a home run when he actually struck out at home plate. The real tragedy is that, in the Medium echo chamber, his claims will go unchallenged. Not only will the NRA’s bankruptcy not solve the “dire crisis,” it has nothing to do with it. Nor do the overwhelming majority of gun owners.

(Note: The data and estimates I used are all from sources most would regard as reliable and authoritative. They include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Small Arms Survey, the General Social Survey, Pew, Gallup, and various state attorneys general and state law enforcement agencies.)

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store